MEXICO CITY – Around 70 percent of attacks on journalists in Mexico go unreported, largely because authorities fail to adequately investigate the crimes, the country's governmental human rights commission said.
The commission says 82 journalists have been killed and 16 have gone missing since 2000. In that period, there have been 28 attacks on media offices or vehicles.
But suspects have been charged in only about one-fifth of the crimes, and less than one in 10 of the attacks have resulted in convictions for the perpetrators.
The commission expressed hope Thursday that a new law to protect journalists and human rights activists will help reduce the level of impunity.
Estimates of the number of attacks vary. The government's special prosecutor for crimes against journalists says 67 journalists have been killed and 14 disappeared since 2006.
The Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) reported that Mexico was the second deadliest country in the world for journalists, with eight murders in the last six months. Brazil ranked fifth worldwide, with six journalists killed, while Honduras had four journalists killed and Bolivia had two.
Colombia, Panama and Haiti all had one journalist murdered. War-torn Syria led the world with 20 journalists killed in 2012.
"Impunity for those responsible for human rights violations against journalists constitutes one of the biggest obstacles to the safety of journalists," a statement from the PEC said. "There needs to be swift and independent investigations in accordance with international standards into any allegations of violations."
The continuing drug violence in Mexico contributed to the country’s high death toll of journalists in the first six months of this year. Since outgoing President Felipe Calderón declared war on the drug cartels in 2006, over 50,000 people have lost their lives in the ensuing conflict.
Last month, the Mexican government approved a constitutional amendment that makes attacks on the press a federal offense. The amendment allows federal authorities to investigate and punish crimes against journalists, persons or installations when the right to information or the right to expression is affected, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).
While the CPJ praised the passing of the amendment, Senior Americas Program coordinator Carlos Lauría warned that Mexico is far from being a safe place for journalists and that the press – and democracy itself – is under threat in the country.
"Mexico is one of the most dangerous places in the world for journalists," Lauría told Fox News Latino. "One of the worst effects of the rise of violence is that journalists are working in a culture of fear that leads to censorship."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.